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Preview of the EastSide Visitor Centre

New Visitor Centre connects visitors to the EastSide of the City

EastSide Visitor Centre, a brand new tourism facility located in the heart of east Belfast delivered by Landmark East*, a not-for-profit company owned by EastSide Partnership**, is getting ready to open its doors to visitors on 27th August.  The centre will not only be an exciting addition to the EastSide, helping to signpost and connect visitors to key attractions and the famous faces and places of east Belfast, but will increase visitor numbers to the area and provide a boost to the local economy.

EastSide Visitor Centre has been developed by Landmark East and was part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund under the European Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for Northern Ireland, administered by TourismNI, with financial support from Belfast City Council and the Northern Ireland Executive’s Delivering Social Change fund through the Social Investment Fund. (See notes to editor for funding breakdown).

Ideally located on the Newtownards Road, EastSide Visitor Centre is adjacent to both Connswater Community*** and Comber Greenways, a series of pathways which connect to green and open spaces throughout the EastSide and to the city centre. Visitors to EastSide Visitor Centre will access information on the city’s attractions from interactive digital screens, interpretative panels and a wall map revealing EastSide’s famous faces, places and industries. From November this year, the Centre will have the unique position of offering visitors the perfect view and access to the eagerly awaited C.S Lewis Square which will feature seven sculptures inspired by characters from the C.S. Lewis’ most famous works: The Chronicles of Narnia. The square will also be utilised as a space for concerts and markets.

The centre includes a coffee bar named after EastSide’s most famous author, C.S Lewis, who was affectionately known as Jack to his close friends and family.  JACK Coffee Bar will be operated by award winning Belfast entrepreneur Linzi Rooney, the innovator of creative design hub and café - Studio Souk, located in Belfast City Centre. JACK Coffee Bar will offer the very best in locally sourced produce as well as providing a shop window for local artists and food producers to showcase their products.

Officially opening the new centre, the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Alderman Brian Kingston, said:

“This is the latest in a number of positive improvements to the infrastructure in east Belfast, building upon the great work delivered through the Connswater Community Greenway project, for which the council has been at the forefront. As one of the biggest recipients of our Local Investment Fund, with an award of £250,000, this visitor centre has the potential to make a real and lasting difference to this part of our city, offering a ‘one stop shop’ from which visitors can then explore the rich environment and heritage of east Belfast.”

Supporting the opening of EastSide Visitor Centre John McGrillen, Chief Executive Tourism NI, commented:

“Tourism Northern Ireland in conjunction with the ERDF Sustainable Competitiveness Programme has been closely involved with the EastSide Visitor Centre project and I am delighted that we were able to contribute funding support to this important tourism facility. The centre presents a unique offering to visitors, the interactive orientation hub located in the heart of East Belfast will tell the stories of the East side’s famous faces, places and industries, further enhancing the local tourism product. As part of the engaging brand and destination strategy for East Belfast the centre will also play a key role in providing advice and guidance to local tourism providers to help capitalise on additional visitor footfall. The East Belfast visitor offering will further increase as the Connswater Greenway and C.S Lewis Square developments take shape.”

Maurice Kinkead, Chief Executive of EastSide Partnership, added:

“The opening of the EastSide Visitor Centre represents the commitment, hard work and dedication of a cross section of organisations and partnerships working together to help make east Belfast a better place.  We gratefully acknowledge and thank all our key funders for it is due to their support that Landmark East has been able to deliver the vision for the centre.   We are working very hard to ensure that east Belfast is a must visit destination on the tourism trail which will have huge benefits to everyone living and working in the EastSide.”

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Pictured at the preview  of the EastSide Visitor Centre, were, from left:

Martin Graham from Tourism NI, Chris Armstrong Tourism Manager from EastSide Partnership and  Lord Mayor of Belfast Alderman Brian Kingston.